ROCKVILLE – A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge postponed the pretrial hearings by one week for three co-defendants charged in the January 2019 deaths of two men.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Harry C. Storm conducted pretrial hearings one at a time. Prior to the pretrial hearings, Storm met with the attorneys of the three defendants in private.
In each case, a police officer led a handcuff-less defendant, clad in a dark green jumpsuit, into the courtroom and up to the table where the defense stood waiting. Then the hearing proceeded.
Storm said he was reluctant to postpone the pretrial hearings for defendants Andy K. Panton, 20, of Boyds; Dontaye Jamahl Hunt, then 18, of Silver Spring; and then-18-year-old Noah Foster Barnett of Silver Spring. He added that the circumstances were “a little tricky.”
Postponing the hearing might require postponing the criminal trial, which is scheduled to occur in two months and could take 10 days. Administrative Law Judge Robert A. Greenberg had administratively joined the three cases, so they would be tried at the same time.
Attorney Michael Lawlor had recently taken on Panton’s case, and called it “ethically improper” to represent the defendant without adequate time to review the evidence entered by the state.
Storm asked about the probability of a public defender being available to represent Panton.
“You won’t find an attorney who can be ready in the next two months,” answered Lawlor, who said he has had “more that (his) fair share of murder trials.”
After hearing two cases and beginning the hearing of the third, Storm granted Lawlor’s verbal motion to postpone the pretrial hearings, to be continued Aug. 2. He said he did not believe the trial date would need to change as a result.
Montgomery County Police (MCP) wrote in charging documents that the homicide’s two victims – both former star athletes who graduated from Paint Branch High School – died in a drug deal gone wrong. Police found 23-year-old Jordan Alexander Radway of Laurel and Christian Deon Roberts, 24, of Silver Spring deceased in a car which had crashed into several parked cars on Jan. 28 in White Oak.
Police had been called to the scene of the crash, located near where a marijuana deal allegedly had been planned to take place between Radway and Barnett. Both Radway and Roberts died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the office of the chief medical examiner.
Despite postponing the pretrial hearings, Storm said the trial may continue according to the previously set schedule.
Maryland grand juries indicted suspects Panton, Hunt and Barnett in connection with the fatal incident. All three face two charges of first-degree murder for the deaths of Roberts and Radway, two counts of use of a firearm to commit a violent crime and one count of armed robbery and of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Months ago, law enforcement had charged two of the men, and not the third, with first-degree murder in the White Oak case.
Initially, a Maryland grand jury had indicted Barnett on the charge of intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, which court documents say was marijuana. Meanwhile, a Maryland grand jury indicted Hunt and Panton together on a list of charges, including two counts of first-degree murder.
The state dropped Barnett’s charge through a nolle pros on May 9, according to online court records. On April 4, a Maryland grand jury indicted Barnett on charges matching those of Panton and Hunt.
On June 19, Storm granted the state’s motion to consolidate the cases of Barnett into one case. These include two murder charges; the case in which he was charged with intent to distribute the controlled dangerous substance in connection with the White Oak incident, and one other case.
Police arrested Barnett and Hunt first, then arrested Panton at least one day later with the help of a tip from an unnamed relative of one of the defendants.
Police determined the identities of the two men at close range. When police searched the car that contained Roberts and Radway, they found no cash that would suggest a transaction had occurred between the victims and the suspects; neither did they find any marijuana.